When the Lord laid it on my heart to write this post, I was driving home from a weekend trip, where I was visiting my aunt and cousins.
The morning we were leaving, we all went to breakfast before we shuffled out of town. I sat across from my cousin Danny who is 22 years old. Great guy! Just engaged, happy, and brimming with all of the makings of a great man. We are friends on facebook and that is how we have been able to keep up with each other’s busy lives. As we talked he raised a question, ” So, is it just you who is religious in your family?” He was sweet and sincere when he asked, it was obvious he was just wanting to get to know me again. But, something struck me about the question? I responded to him and said “Well, I prefer a follower of Christ and laughed.” He said please don’t feel like you have to explain, it’s okay.
There was so much I wanted to say, I wanted to explain the gospel, I wanted to tell him how there was such a huge difference between religion and the gospel of Christ. But, it wasn’t the time.
Nevertheless, it continued to play in my head, that question: Are you the religious one?
On our drive home my mom and I were reading from Max Lucado’s book “No wonder they call him the Savior” I got to a chapter as she drove that knocked my socks off and confirmed to me that I was suppose to write about this very subject. Here is some paraphrasing from the chapter-
The dark tunnel of religion, they don’t come any darker. Many have been saved from the depths of hell due to the cross, saved from tunnels of perversion, slavery and sickness. The tunnel of religion has many deep pitfalls, and a stench reeking of the spirit of good intentions. You wouldn’t want to carry a young faith into this tunnel, the young minds probing questions, stale in the numbing darkness. Fresh insights are squelched in order to protect fragile traditions. Originality is discouraged. Curiosity is stifled, priorities are reshuffled. Jesus had no room for those who specialized in making religion a warlord. Religion the crutch that cripples, a sizeable amount of evil that wears the robe of religion, and uses the Bible as a sledgehammer. And it is often the case that one has to find faith in spite of church instead of in church.
I think the last sentence was the most biting. Finding faith in spite of church, think about those words.
There is a huge difference between those that stand close to the cross, and those who actually are close to the Christ!
Many are far away, too many. The scripture that sums this up is from Matthew 7:21-23
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
Becoming a true CHRISTIAN is to know him with your heart, depend on him for everything, thank him for everything. It’s a personal relationship, not a Sunday visit. It’s getting to know him, his nature, his promises, his faithfulness.
Sometimes, I wonder if he were to be walking the earth today, would we pass him off as a overzealous preacher, a radical, a nut. I think most religious people would. Would we be standing on the street willing to stand up against the crowd and walk over and help him carry the cross, or would we be in the back of the crowd clutching our Bible and doing nothing, out of fear of what others would think? Out of fear that YOU will be labeled a radical?
This is the difference between some one who is religious and some one who is truly following Christ.
I pray that this touches some one’s heart today and starts a transformation from the inside out.